In the Spotlight

There are several laws of nature. One of these laws is that as teenagers we like to do really stupid things and it’s a miracle we all survive to adulthood. If you get several teens together, they will often times shortly wander off to do some hair brained stunt. Some of these adventures can be more dangerous than others and I unfortunately know this from experience. As I have looked back at some of the adventures in my life, I realized it was very important to have the right companions along for the adventure and to make sure we all had the same adventure in mind.

I grew up in foster care. I was placed in the system when I was six years old and I was emancipated from the state when I was eighteen. While growing up, I lived in a dozen different homes. Some of these were short term “shelter homes” where I stayed only a couple weeks and others were longer term “permanent placement” foster homes. Bouncing from home to home, I was often lonely and did my best to make friends with existing members of the family where I had been placed.

One of the homes was with the Diamond family. They had a daughter several years younger than me and my younger biological brother also lived there. They tried to integrate my brother and I into their normal lives as best as they could. One summer we went up to Sequoia National Park to spend time camping with them and the Diamond’s extended family of aunt’s, uncles, and cousins. It was a beautiful experience leaving the heat and smog of Southern California to experience the fresh cool air of the pines and Sequoia trees in the park. The trees towered as high as a skyscraper and they were often as wide as a house.

bear-picnic-table1    It was also a big adventure into nature for us. I remember on a previous trip watching as a family from Germany set up a picturesque picnic table and then proceeded to leave it for a short hike. Even I as a city kid knew this was going to end badly. I had watched enough of Yogi Bear to know that leaving picnics in forests was a bad idea, but I didn’t know of the power of a bear. The family was gone for about five minutes when a bear casually walked into the camp site and sniffed at the meal laid out for it. It casually ate the meal as the family returned and watched with horror from the side. As the bear left, it casually reminded everyone who was boss as it easily flipped the picnic table just so that it could retrieve a few fallen morsels of food.

While on the camping trip with the Diamond family the foster cousins asked my brother along for a night hike. We thought this sounded like a great idea and went along for the fun. As we left, the foster cousins asked us to turn off our flashlights. They told us that if we saw a bush rustle we would all turn on our lights to light up the animal. Somehow their ridiculous plan still hadn’t occurred to me. As we walked he heard a rustling and we all quickly had our lights shining on the spot. As our lights rested on the bush, a large hairy form started standing up to it’s full seven foot height. We had a black bear spotlighted ten feet away from us. It growled baring it’s teeth and I secretly thought to myself, “we are all going to die.” Fortunately, I did not die as you can obviously observe. The bear must of thought “dumb teenagers taste bad” and it wandered off.

As we returned to our campsite I had a few moments to consider how thankful I was that the spotlighting of the bear didn’t turn out to be lethal for us. I chalked this up to being a time that I had gotten roped into doing something pretty stupid, and I was just glad to be alive. During my life I have thought back on this experience several times. We all have paths we walk in our lives with others. During my life I have walked many different paths, and have chosen different companions along the way. While growing up in foster care many of my foster brothers had options for companions and paths that led them to the dangers of drugs and prison. I’m glad that I picked up along the way the importance of choosing good companions and ensuring I know what goals we have together. With this knowledge, I was able to avoid being led blindly on to the dangers of the bears in the path again.


Who is Paul Darr?

Paul Darr has lived in the Inland Empire region of California, Oregon, Colorado and currently lives in San Antonio, Texas. Paul is also an Army Veteran, who has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. On the political spectrum Paul is a Libertarian that advocates fiscal responsibility and social tolerance. Paul is currently employed as a Computer Support Technician and is a father of a handsome boy and beautiful daughter. In his free time Paul enjoys reading, using and modifying open source software, gaming and several other geeky pursuits.

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